Kenneth Boss, one of four New York City police officers who fired 41 times at an unarmed black man in 1999, received a promotion Thursday despite objections from the victim’s mother and civil rights activists. Boss reportedly fired five shots at Amadou Diallo, a 22-year-old West African immigrant who was reaching in the dark for his wallet just outside of his apartment building.
Although Boss and three other officers faced trial in Diallo’s death, all four were eventually acquitted of murder and other charges. Sixteen years later, police officials said Boss, the only officer from the Diallo case still employed by the New York Police Department, had earned a promotion to the rank of sergeant, according to the Fox affiliate WNYW-TV.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights leader who helped bring national attention to the case in 1999, reportedly planned to hold a protest Thursday outside the NYPD headquarters with Diallo’s mother, Kadiatou Diallo, over Boss’ promotion. “I think it’s disgraceful and sends the wrong signal at a time when, nationwide, we are raising the question of police reform,” Sharpton told the New York Daily News. “This was one of the most obvious cases of police brutality.”
Kadiatou Diallo, who reached a $3 million settlement with the city over her son’s death in 2004, expressed her outrage over news of the promotion Wednesday. “You have so many police officers out there who deserve to be promoted, and this man is being promoted?” she said according to the Daily News. “I don’t have any hatred or revenge in my heart, but my life was changed forever that day. This is a stab in the heart.”
In December 1999, Boss, along with former Officers Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy and Edward McMellon, opened fire on Diallo, a native of Guinea, after Carroll shouted that Diallo had a gun. Diallo, who was hit 19 times, was unarmed.
After his acquittal, Boss was disarmed and reassigned to desk duty until 2012, the Daily News reported. Boss was promoted in accordance to police policy, which is not subject to review by top department officials. The promotion comes with a pay raise.